The Vine

Fashion Visionaries: Hong Kong Designers Shine

Web dress by young designer Roxy Lee (left) and paper dress by Kenny Li (right).

It seems ironic that I was only just lamenting the lack of design talent in Hong Kong because this week saw the opening of Fashion Visionaries, an exhibition dedicated to 50 years of Hong Kong fashion, at the Heritage Museum.

What fashion does Hong Kong have to boast about you may be asking yourself (and I don’t blame you). For so many years our designers have been overshadowed by the city’s reputation as the manufacturing capital of the world and as such have been labelled commercial and uncreative. Because of this I wasn’t expecting much, but as it turns out, I was in for a surprise.

The first room features more edgy pieces including Pacino Wan’s Union Jack dress (far right).

Fashion Visionaries is not exactly new (it was first staged in Shanghai last year as part of the Expo) although this time round it’s bigger and better. A collaboration between the museum and the Hong Kong Fashion Designers Association (HKFDA), it took nine months to put together and features around 50 looks from different designers ranging from established names such as Barney Cheung, Pacino Wan and Ika to new talents from the Hong Kong Polytechnic and Chinese University.

Covering 5,000 square feet, there are six different rooms, each one with a different theme, music and atmosphere. At the beginning you are led through a hallway where mannequins stand in mirrored boxes, dressed in creative pieces such as Pacino Wan’s iconic Union Jack dress and Kenny Li’s origami gown. The second and third rooms display more formal evening wear and are set up like a fashion show. One room has over 4,000 lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling.

Evening gowns illuminated by 4,000 lightbulbs

In the fashion pop-up room, young graduates or award winners from various design competitions have a chance to show off their work. The clothes will change every two week so you can see something new each time.

Organiser Bonita Cheung has also added some interesting sections to the mix including fashion & entertainment, featuring costumes from TVB shows and outfits worn by famous pop stars such as Anita Mui, Kelly Chen and Sammi Cheng. There is also a section devoted to photographers, illustrators and models featuring the work of photographers such as Wing Shya, while QiQi and Janet Ma have donated old photos and magazine covers, which are displayed on plasma screens.

Fashion pop-up room

On the topic of plasma screens, the digital element of the exhibition is also worth a mention. Next to each designer’s name is a barcode which you can scan into your phone to access more information. In one room, two large screens flank opposite walls and show a video of models walking down the runway. All of these elements make you feel like you are actually taking part in the exhibition.

What struck me the most was how much talent Hong Kong has to offer. While the exhibition is nowhere in the league of McQueen’s Savage Beauty, it really does uncover a side of the local fashion industry that many people don’t know exists and for that reason alone it is worth a visit.

Finally Hong Kong has its chance to shine…

The finale includes a blue dress worn by Kelly Chen designed by Yee Chung Man

Fashion Visionaries runs until 12th March 2012 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, Hong Kong, http://hk.heritage.museum.

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